Providence stuns No. 3 Villanova
PROVIDENCE, R.I. >> Providence will need to play its best basketball of the season down the stretch if its hopes to earn its fifth straight
NCAA Tournament bid.
The Friars just took a big step toward that goal.
Kyron Cartwright scored 17 points and the Friars withstood several late surges to stun third-ranked Villanova 76-71 on Wednesday night.
Rodney Bullock and Alpha Diallo each added 14 points for the Friars (17-9,
8-5 Big East), who snapped a five-game losing streak to the Wildcats.
It was Providence’s first win over Villanova since Jan. 24, 2016. With the victory the Friars greatly improved their at-large resume for the NCAA Tournament. They moved into a tie for thirdplace in the Big East with Creighton, which they split with this season.
Coming off an 80-63 loss to DePaul, Diallo said this victory gives the Friars’ locker room a needed jolt.
“I think this was a big game for us confidence-wise,” he said. “It’s not every day you basically have the No. 1 team coming into your building.”
Mikal Bridges had 19 points for Villanova, but fouled out with 1:12 to play in the game. Jalen Brunson added 14 points.
Villanova (23-3, 10-3) pulled within 59-54 on a pair of free throws by Omari Spellman with 6:25 left. But the Friars outscored the Wildcats 8-4 over the next two minutes to push the lead back to 67-58.
Collin Gillespie gave the Wildcats a chance after his layup trimmed Providence’s lead to 72-69 with 29 seconds left. Cartwright then connected on one of his two free throws on the other end.
Villanova missed on its ensuing possession and was forced to foul with 20.6 left. Cartwright again hit one of two, and Eric Paschall made a layup on the other end to make it 74-71.
The Wildcats fouled again with 12.8 left, but this time Diallo was able to convert on a pair of free throws.
“They just outplayed us. We were ready to go. They were just better,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “I thought we would have played a little bit better. We didn’t.”
Spellman, who entered the night leading the team in rebounding, wore a protective mask after suffering a fracture to a small facial bone during Saturday’s win over Butler.
He stayed active underneath the basket, scoring 11 points and grabbing nine rebounds. The extra opportunities helped the Wildcats outscore the Friars 44-20 in the paint.
But Villanova struggled from the outside, missing 17 of 20 3-point attempts. The Wildcats also finished with 19 turnovers.
“They were just really physical,” said Brunson, who had seven of the turnovers. “We were giving up the ball. You gotta be strong with the ball.”
Providence has five games remaining, including a trip to fourth-ranked Xavier.
Providence coach Ed Cooley said he’s comfortable flying under the radar for now.
“We don’t want to be talked about,” he said. “We’re the little red engine just trying to come up the street.”
Florida State 81,
No. 11 Clemson 79, OT
TALLAHASSEE, FLA.>> Phil Cofer scored 17 points, Trent Forrest added 16 and the Seminoles (18-8, 7-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second half to beat the Tigers (20-5, 9-4).
The Seminoles didn’t take their first lead until 1:05 remaining in overtime when Forrest made a driving layup to put them up 75-74. After Clemson was called for a five-second violation on the inbounds, Forrest came up big with another driving layup to put FSU up by three.
Clemson scored four of the next six points to get within 79-78 but Forrest made both free throws with 5.3 seconds remaining to extend the margin to three.
UC Riverside 69, CSU Northridge 62
NORTHRIDGE, CALIF. >> Dikymbe Martin scored 18 points, six of them in the final three minutes, as the Highlanders (7-18, 2-9) held off a late rally to beat the Matadors (6-20, 3-9).
UC Riverside now has won two of its last three games after snapping a 10game losing streak with its first Big West win at Hawaii. The Highlanders dropped a 62-52 decision at UC Irvine on Saturday.
Providence guard Kyron Cartwright celebrated after sinking a 3-pointer during the second half to increase his team’s lead over Villanova on Wednesday.